Chapter 36, Blog 2
By Chuck Wells As Told To Ray Hochgesang
Finally, Coach Rip Van Winkle awoke. I gathered my good shoes, safety pins and lucky jock. There would be no more pretending. The real thing – Hayward Field – beckoned. I would see the real thing, real soon.
… perhaps, too soon …
“Let’s get one thing straight. I’m instituting a moratorium on negative thinking, starting in 3 seconds … 2 … 1… NOW!”
… that’s what you think, loser …
“GET OUT OF HERE!”
“All right, all right,” said a groggy Harry. “A person simply cannot sleep … with you and your demons slugging it out.”
We ate at McDonald’s in spite of Harry threatening a supersized hissy fit. I had already broken training, so why not go all the way, I thought. We squeezed inside our rented VW Beetle, which I pointed up I-5 toward Eugene. On the way, Harry tried to distract me with a few tall tales from his glory years, but I listened with only one ear and don’t recall a single word he said.
Twenty-five minutes later, I could see the giant, yellow “O” for the University of Oregon on the south side of Hayward Field. Problem was we could get no closer. The traffic was as bad as race day at the Indianapolis 500. Thousands had made the pilgrimage for the Olympic Trials and its respective festival encircling Hayward Field.
They don’t call Eugene “TrackTown USA” for nothing. The whole city bought in and celebrated the 2008 Trials. For the next 10 days, it was Woodstock for track and field fans. Just name it: running clinics and events everywhere, a myriad of concerts, entertainment and great food plus wine and microbrew gardens. For those left without Trials tickets – it was sold out long ago – a pair of Jumbotrons offered spectacular viewing of all the drama inside Hayward for those camped outside.
Normally, I would circle the venue three times to cast my own spell. Today, I would have to do it on foot, if at all. Harry and I hiked the last mile into the Bowerman Building at the northwest corner of Hayward. My coach then rolled off to see exactly what time I would run. It wasn’t 5:30 as I originally thought, more like 8:20. But that was all right. It would give me time to flush out more poison, acclimate to the circus – and see some of the other events.
I was a track fan, too.
One prominent sign in Bowerman puzzled me, though, advertising the “International Institute for Sport and Human Performance.” I figured it was just another part of the University of Oregon’s infatuation with track and field.
… bet they’d like those goofy legs of yours …
Copyright © 2012 by Chuck H. Wells/Ray Hochgesang